MILLIONS of self-employed workers faced uncertainty after the nation was told to stay at home for the third lockdown.
But struggling self-employed Brits can get help through the self-employment income support scheme (SEISS).
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The scheme gives grants to help those who work for themselves if their income has been negatively impacted.
SEISS has so far given out three rounds of grants to the self-employed since lockdown began in March.
Self-employed workers were expecting the Prime Minister to share more information on the scheme when he unveiled his roadmap to ease England out of lockdown but he didn’t.
The PM did announced that some businesses, such as hairdressers and pubs, will be able to reopen from April 12, as long as the NHS isn’t overwhelmed by Covid cases.
Although self-employed workers may have to wait a little while longer to get back to work, the Government has confirmed a fourth SEISS grant will cover February to April for those struggling.
Here’s everything you need to know about the fourth grant:
When does the fourth grant come into effect?
The Government confirmed last year that there would be a fourth SEISS grant to cover February to April.
The announcement came after Sunak revealed that self-employed workers would be given a third SEISS grant that offered support from November to January.
But the end of January has now come and gone and ministers have not given out any further information on this fourth grant.
According to the government website, “details about the fourth grant will be announced on 3 March 2021” – the date the Chancellor unveils his Spring Budget.
This has prompted concerns and calls for clarity as the end of February nears and self-employed workers are still waiting for news of further financial support.
How much will the fourth grant be?
We do not know how much the government will pay out in a fourth grant to self-employed workers.
Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert says further details on how much will be paid out will not be announced until the Budget on March 3.
In a video posted to Twitter last month, Lewis went on to criticise the delay in the announcement and called on politicians to put pressure on the government to bring it forward.
He said: “For me, it does seem to be unnecessary cruel to make people who are in dire financial need of support in the midst of this horrible coronavirus pandemic, wait on tenterhooks to see what kind of money they are going to get.”
The third SEISS grant covered 80% of self-employed workers’ earnings – or up to £7,500 – for the three months from November to January.
Since the furlough scheme has been extended until April 30 and is still paying 80% of employees wages, it is unlikely Sunak will reduce the amount people will get until the end of April in the next SEISS.
Lewis also said you can suspect the fourth grant will also cover 80% of earnings – up to £7,500 – for the three months from February to April.
Why has the fourth grant announcement been delayed?
It is not clear why the government is taking longer to unveil details on the fourth grant.
But Lewis said the delay could be down to operational changes being made to the fourth grant.
The money expert said he hopes this is because the Treasury is trying to cover more people this time round, which is something many people have been calling for.
Will the delay affect when I get paid?
Again, the government have kept silent on why they have yet to unveil the details.
But Lewis said they delay to the announcemnt may not affect when people get their money.
This is beacuse that applications for the fourth grant could open soon after the Budget announcements are made.
For the first three grants, applications did not open until weeks into the period that the grant covered.
This means that people will not necessarily receive their fourth grant money any later than they did relative to the previous grants, Lewis explained.
However, the difference in the past is that people knew in advance how much they would get and who would get it.
Lewis said the delay “stops them planning, stops them budgeting, stops them having legitimate expectations.”
He added that “managing expectations in this time is absolutely crucial.”
How could eligibility change for the fourth grant?
Up to three million self-employed workers were not eligible for the first three grants.
Only people who had filed a 2018-2019 self-assessment tax return could apply as the government looked for ways to avoid widespread fraud.
Self-employed workers who are company directors or run their businesses as limited companies were also unable to apply.
Lewis suggests that many previously ineligible people may be able to apply for the fourth grant.
He said: “One can only hope the reason for this cruel delay is because there are substantial changes being made that can help more people.”
This may include those were newly self-employed last year but have now completed a 2019- 2020 tax return.
The Sun has asked the Treasury how much the fourth SEISS grant will be, why it has been delayed and who is eligible.
Who was eligible for the third SEISS grant?
While the eligibility criteria for SEISS grants have changed since March last year, self-employed workers have always had to meet a stringent set of criteria to be eligible for the payout.
For the most recent grant, you had to meet the following criteria:
- Self-employed workers must have been eligible for the first and second grant – even if you didn’t claim them. (This is with the exception of some people who became eligible after a couple of rule changes in August.)
- You needed to declare that you intended to continue trading and that you were either currently actively trading but were impacted by reduced demand due to the coronavirus.
- Alternatively, you needed to declare that you were previously trading but were temporarily unable to do so due to the pandemic.
- You must have filed a tax return for 2018/19, meaning you must have been self-employed before April 6, 2019.
- You must also have been earning more than half of your total income from self-employment.
- Your trading profit must have been less than £50,000 a year.
The grants were calculated based on an average of your profits over three tax years – 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
If you didn’t trade in 2016/17, then grants were based on your average profits in 2017/18 and 2018/19, or in 2018/19 if that’s the only year you traded.
For those who were claiming maternity allowance, this did not affect their eligibility for the grant.
How do I apply?
For the previous grant, you made your claim via the Gov.uk website once they opened for applications.
Self-employed workers needed the following info to claim:
In other news, the Chancellor is expected to extend the furlough scheme and business rate relief into summer in next month’s Budget.
For a deep dive into the how SEISS works, we’ve put together a guide with everything you need to known about the system.
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